Margao: Pune FC held onto Arata Izumi`s first half strike to score a solitary goal win over Dempo in the 19th round of the I-League on Sunday.
Pune FC, which lost to sporting Clube de Goa in their last round, looked fresh as they played to a plan as they played a defensive game and then launched a quick counter move in which they succeeded and found the net in the 20th minute through Izumi header off a cross from Baldeep Singh.
Their defence then put up a solid performance as they held their fame rivals in the second half as Dempo launched flurry of moves but failed to find the equaliser even as Clifford and substitute Joaquim Abranches missed a clear chance from close at Nehru Stadium .
Pune`s Amrinder Singh also put up a good display under the bar bringing off good saves especially in the dying minutes to give his team full points and take them to sixth place with 31 points from 19 matches.
While Dempo who were looking to extend their lead at the top suffered their first defeat after being unbeaten in the last five matches and now remain with 40 points from 19 matches.
Dempo who had more possession of the ball but their moves fizzled out as they failed to get past the stout rival defense.
On the other hands, Pune FC who played a waiting game took the lead in the 20th minute. Baldeep Singh who moved on the right flanks sent a goal mouth cross into the box which an unmarked Arata Izumi made no mistake to head in.
Keita Manjou than had a glorious chance to increase the lead but shot over after he got the better of onrushing keeper.
Dempo who pressed hard to find the equaliser came with couple of good moves in the later stage of the first half but Clifford Miranda and Ranty Martins failed to beat rival keeper Amrinder Singh under the bar.
Changing over, Dempo launched flurry of moves even as Pune FC pressed more men to defend their citadel and succeeded in not conceding a goal.
Dempo have themselves to blame for the defeat as Denzil Theobald and substitute Joaquim Abranches failed to score from handshaking distance.
Dempo`s coach Maurico Afonso pressed fresh legs in search of the equaliser but failed to score as substitute Joy Ferrao muffed an open chance in the stoppage time as he shot out from close off a pass from Denzil which came to him through Sameer Naik from the right.